I've started making bread.
I do it every other day, part of my morning ritual. Downstairs, tea. Take the pills that keep me stable and wake up with the internet for an hour. Then washing up, sweep the floor, clean the kitchen of the mess from the day before. Get the flour, the yeast, the salt. Mix, knead, rise. Take the dough and knock it back.
I’ve started making bread because I live alone and I’m unemployed and when it comes to relationships I have very few marketable skills. I figured I ought to learn how to bake. Who doesn’t like bread? I mean apart from people with gluten intolerance but I’ll just put a note on my OKCupid and Recon profiles, I can’t imagine it’ll reduce the dating pool that much.
And it’s not that I’m looking for a boyfriend, it’s just that
It’s just that if I’m honest I’m scared.
I’m scared because I live alone and I’m unemployed and when it comes to a career I have very few marketable skills, despite having more letters after my name than in it. I’m scared because my life keeps crumbling whenever I try to build it up and I’m getting tired or picking myself up and dusting myself off and pretending it’s all going to be OK.
And so in the mornings I clear up the mess from the day before and get out the mixing bowl, and I knead the dough, and all I’m doing, then, is making bread.
Last year I started working again. It was only minimum wage but it was money, and after that hideous bipolar episode where I lost my job and my home and my studies ran aground, it was amazing to finally have some independence. My debts got paid off and my income kept coming in and I liked the job and the people and I thought great, I can move out and get my own flat in a city I like near people I know. I thought ‘this time it’s all going to be OK’. It was ideal.
It wasn’t. Of course it wasn’t.
I have these pills. They’re small and orange and come with the most hilariously terrifying list of side effects which features the word ‘fatal ‘ about three times, ‘necrosis’ once, and includes the term ‘multi system organ failure’ (which I assume is, also, fatal). Thanks to some of the letters after my name I can explain what they do inside my brain but really all you need to know is that they’re mood stabilisers. I have these pills and I take them every morning.
I take them every morning because if I don’t I might have another breakdown, although they didn’t stop me having a breakdown earlier this year. I was found staring vacant and cold in the office and it was decided maybe I shouldn’t be working after all. And now here I am, unemployed and uncertain prospects, looking at a future where my haywire brain flares up every few years to smash my life once more to pieces. More letters after my name than in it and still incapable of getting a job.
So I have these pills and I take them every morning, before I have a cup of tea and put on a podcast and sweep the floor. I’m trying to become houseproud. I could be like one of those 1960s housewives from the adverts, only gay and happy, or at least gay and on drugs.
So in fact just like one of those 1960s housewives from the adverts.
It’s not that I want a boyfriend, it’s just
"What stops you?"
Family. Family stops me killing myself.
"Do you have a partner? Any kind of romantic support?"
I’ve not had a partner for years. Ever, really.
The psychiatrist frowned, lines wrinkling his forehead; "that’s… not ideal"
It’s just I’m scared.
And I’m probably not going to get a proper job any time soon, because I keep trying and I keep falling and I’m getting tired, you know I’m just getting tired now of getting back up and dusting myself off and pretending everything’s going to be fine after I’ve been knocked back again, and again. I just want a home, a bit of stability, someone to hold on to when the storms come. But I’ve got to admit that with no job and no prospects and no future and - well, I’m the worst kind of high maintenance, let’s put it that way. So I’d better learn to bake.
And ironing. I’ve found out I quite like ironing, it’s peaceful.
I’ve got these old dreams. I’ve got all these things that I wanted to do and that I promised myself I’d do, when I was younger. I’ve got these dreams that I had, that I try not to think about any more because you can only live in the now and I mustn’t feed the fury inside. I’ve got all these friends who are doing great and I’m so happy for them, and they’ve supported me so much and been so patient, I know I can be brittle when I’m breaking. It’s only in my bleaker moments I’m bitter. But I mustn’t feed the fury inside.
Flour, yeast, salt. Water. Knead.
I’ve started making bread.